A SEA OF SLICKROCK – 2013
MTBR TO SORT IT ALL OUT;
MORE THAN ADEQUATE, ACTUALLY;
CHAD’S ON HIS WAY! &
WHAT HAPPENED IN CANADA?
The last weekend in October is now firmly established as a spirit renewing time for Rez Dogs. For three years now we have reserved this weekend to ride a wildly remote spot on the Colorado Plateau and revel in a sea of slickrock. A report on this year’s adventure:
1. MTBR TO SORT IT OUT. Slickrock veterans Paul Berry, Brian Leddy, Andy Stravers, Chuck Van Drunen, Greg Cavanaugh, Kevin Zwiers and Bob Rosebrough and newbies Dirk Hollebeek, Ryan Dashner and Jack Hawley drove to Chinle on Saturday. Around mid-afternoon we drove into a housing complex near the Chinle hospital and found Chinle kids and parents swarming a cool little homemade bike park. Brian made contact with the Chinle guys several weeks earlier and they offered to show us their favorite trail – another slickrock gem. Leaving Chinle on dirt roads, the front wheel of Chuck’s trail bike came off Bob’s bike rack and was dragging as near hysteria ensued. Bob drove on obliviously while Chuck and his crew, who were following behind Bob, tried everything they could to get his attention. Thankfully only psychic damage ensued and the matter was resolved when all parties concerned decided that Greg (who has experience in these sorts of things) should start an MTBR thread to get some calm, level headed advice on who should be assessed blame for the whole affair. Stay tuned. We’ll follow this as a developing story and see where it goes.
2. DOLPINS PLAYING IN THE OCEAN. The Chinle route was a classic. It starts on slickrock only 50 feet from a major dirt road and weaves above a series of canyons. Each of the slickrock fingers between the canyons feature swells with a smooth rolling surface. At one point, Kevin and Dirk were hopping over the swells at high speed like dolphins playing in the ocean. The route is spiced up by several half-pipe canyon drop-ins and views of some wild sandstone spires on the plain below. The Chinle guys were great hosts. When we got back to the trucks we broke out Rez Dog stickers and beverages to thank our hosts and an animated circle formed in the middle of a rez road as the sun started going down.
3. MORE THAN ADEQUATE, ACTUALLY. This year we decided to forgo our usual stop at the Chinle Burger King – which was the location of stimulating conversation last year. Ryan was able to talk our way into the Junction Café after closing for some adequately sized – more than adequate, actually – portions of meat (Navajo burgers, sheepherder burritos and meat loaf). The triple highlights of the night were: 1. a spirited argument between Kevin and Chuck (joined by everyone else but Kevin) about whether Prince Fielder (first baseman for the Detroit Tigers) would beat Chuck in a race to first base, 2. a comprehensive discussion of what a rider has to do in order to “drop himself”, and 3. lying on our backs in the bottom of Canyon de Chelly and looking up at a moonless sky filled with stars and falling stars (Greg stopped counted after spotting eight falling stars). There was an unconfirmed report of a quadruple lunar eclipse, but we remain skeptical that something that outrageous could have actually occurred. Paul, for one, seemed certain that it never happened.
4. PAUL AND ANDY IN TOP FORM. On Sunday, we returned to our remote slickrock playground, but this year, at Chuck’s suggestion, we enjoyed the day with a more causal out and back exploratory ride from the south rather than our usual point to point epic. And what we encountered was better riding. Riding the fingers between canyons is a smoother and more flowing ride that the beeline point to point route and we got to ride bowls and discovered arches and side canyons that we would have never seen otherwise. Paul and Andy, in particular, displayed exceptional riding form around the bowls and on narrow ridges – perhaps form carried over from the Moab trip they took to boycott Dirk’s Darkside Classic (where they got the nicknames Colonel and Captain Curmudgeon).
5. CHAD’S ON HIS WAY! On every slickrock adventure, you can count on Chuck to spice it up with his color commentary:
· “You know, one difference that I’ve noticed this year without Peter along is that we haven’t run into herds of sheep.” Heads nod all around.
· Two and a half hours into the ride Chuck is sitting on the rim looking south. This is the point each year where Chuck gestures toward a paved road in the far distance and says, “Hey, there’s Dirk on his road bike. He’s on his way.” This year, with Dirk sitting by his side, Chuck points and says, “Hey, there’s Chad on his road bike. He’s on his way.” A member of the peanut gallery adds, “Yeah, and there’s Pikaart on his wheel saying ‘You’re looking great Chad. You got this. Keep pulling.’”
· Chuck is sitting on a ledge to the left of Paul, Andy and Greg with a 800 foot drop-off at their feet eating lunch as they drink beer. He says, “This is may be the exact spot that is the farthest away from any place in the US where you can buy a beer.”
A CONCLUDING QUESTION: We are almost afraid to ask this one, but it has to be asked. What in the world did Melanie’s aunt Heather do to Chuck in Canada this summer? Let’s set the stage on this one. Chuck and family went up to Canada for Brian and Melanie’s wedding this summer. Chuck was a quivering mess when he got back. He was babbling about a 6’3” Viking woman who terrorized him non-stop, but after a couple of months it seemed like he had gotten over it. But no! At the Navajo burger stand Sunday after the ride, the topic of pursuit races came up and you absolutely would not have believed your eyes and ears at Chuck’s reaction when he was told that Aunt Heather was talking about coming down to take him on in the pursuit races. Chuck’s voice got high pitched and squeaky and he started talking defensively about how he kicked ass on the pro women at the Road Apple. Yeah, that’s right, Chuck – the guy who was casual about closing in on Damian, Levi and McCalla at Squash Blossom – was almost stuttering and shaking as he talked about how Aunt Heather didn’t stand a chance because he beat the female pros in Farmington! We may need to lay off Chuck on this one guys. There must have been some really bad s*** that went down in Canada. We may not want an answer to this question.